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Amazon puts roots in SA

While global online retail company Amazon.com widens its net with online food shopping and walk-in bookstores, its web services division is making inroads in South Africa.

Amazon Web Services says it is recruiting 250 people for its offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.


The company offers cloud computing for other companies. Cloud computing refers to the on-demand delivery of IT resources and applications via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.

The head of technology and solutions architecture at Amazon, Attila Narin, said the company had recognised the potential for growth in South Africa where Cape Town and Joburg acted in perfect unison.

"Cape Town is ideal for the technical side of things, and Joburg is perfect for the customer-facing side of things. In fact, some of the core technology for Amazon's cloud computing used across the globe was built right here in Cape Town," said Narin, who is based in Luxembourg but worked in Cape Town from 2006 to 2008, and was back in the city this week.

"This city has an amazing pool of talent, as universities like UCT and Stellenbosch produce some of the finest engineering students on the continent. That is the main criterion for choosing our development centres, so Cape Town ticked the boxes."

Narin said that Johannesburg, which opened its Amazon Web Services office last year, is "the economic heart of the country and the continent too, so it made sense to have our customer-facing presence there".

Narin said the company's successes in South Africa included Entersekt, Travelstart, and Medscheme.

Stellenbosch-based Entersekt developed South Africa's first security solutions for mobile banking, resulting in a decline in credit card fraud.

Travelstart, an online booking service for flights and hotels, "shows how you go beyond the normal borders with cloud computing. It is now present in all of southern Africa and the Middle East".

Medscheme uses cloud computing to keep patient records, making them "more accessible to medical service providers".

Narin said South Africa was a "highly innovative and creative space for start-ups".

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